Former Arsenal player Kevin Campbell has boldly claimed that legendary Gunners boss George Graham would’ve brought Rob Holding off the pitch after just two minutes against Aston Villa.
Graham spent nine years as our manager between 1986 and 1995 and was a hero. He helped us win two league titles, two league cups, one FA Cup and one UEFA Cup Winners Cup.
Even though he made the decision to join Tottenham later on, he is still highly regarded by many at Arsenal, and if Campbell is anything to go by, Graham would’ve made a ruthless decision on Holding just two minutes into the game when Aston Villa scored on Saturday.
Campbell said on the Highbury Squad YouTube channel: “Let me tell you something. If George Graham was the manager, he might have taken Rob Holding off. [Cedric] does a bad short pass to Gabriel, but remember, they are not in on goal.
“Traore has the upper hand on Gabriel because he is all of a sudden caught in between. Here’s the problem. Rob Holding marks the space and not the player. This is the problem. If he was tight to Ollie Watkins, I can guarantee you that Ollie Watkins doesn’t score.”
Villa took the lead in the second minute of the game and managed to hold onto it. Watkins’ goal was deflected off Holding and went past Maty Ryan into the back of the net, but things could’ve been much different.
Was Holding really at fault?
The Englishman’s positioning was questionable but he wasn’t the only one responsible for the goal. Bertrand Traore was unmarked when he received the ball from Emi Martinez and his touch to John McGinn was brilliant.
If one of our midfielders stayed close to Traore, that move would’ve ended before it even started. Cedric had his chance to deal with the situation but his back pass fell short. That put Gabriel in a very difficult position.
The Brazilian either had to stay in his position and block Traore’s cross or should’ve committed a foul on the former Lyon man, which would’ve resulted in a booking. He did neither and that made it easy for the winger to find Watkins in the middle.
Holding could’ve stayed tighter to Watkins but he didn’t. It was his deflection that pushed the ball past Ryan, but let’s hold back on the criticism. The Englishman has been immense for us this season and one tiny error at the end of a bunch of more serious ones doesn’t make the defeat his fault.